Civil Society Hearing on cannabis at the INCB

Civil society representatives present their views on the use of cannabis for medical and non-medical purposes to the Board members of INCB

Medical cannabis

A forest of fir trees? No, medical cannabis crops used in research in Australia – Photo: Mullaways, CC

By Lucía Goberna – The Vienna-based International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) is an independent body, established by the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, mandated to monitor and support governments’ compliance with the three international drug control treaties. Its 13 members are elected by the Economic and Social Council to serve in their individual capacities for a term of five years.

On May 7th 2018, the INCB Board organized for the first time a civil society hearing in the frame of the 122nd session of the INCB Board in Vienna (Austria).  The concrete topic of the hearing was “the use of cannabis for medical and non-medical purposes”.

The Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs (VNGOC), organization that provides a link between non-governmental organizations and the Vienna-based agencies involved in setting drug policy such as INCB, selected 10 civil society representatives from the numerous applications received from across the world to present their views on the subject matter. The presentations covered a wide range of different perspectives and issues – including medical cannabis use and patient advocacy, policing, economics, the rehabilitation of cannabis users, the UN drug control conventions, and varied perspectives on the regulation, legalization and commercialization of cannabis. Some presentations were made in-person while others were video-recorded. This facilitated the participation of representatives from all across the world.


It is the first time that the INCB has organized a civil society hearing to listen to the views and experiences of civil society representatives in the frame of its Board sessions. Nevertheless, the cooperation of INCB and VNGOC is not new. These entities already cooperate through the organization of an annual informal dialogue that takes place annually at the margins of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and by setting meetings with NGOs during INCB country missions.

Dianova International, as board member of the VNGOC, has participated in the selection of speakers. We are glad that the INCB has approached VNGOC and hope that this will be the first of many civil society hearings to be organized in the future.